By Mark McConville
MEET the millionaire business man who gave away his fortune to improve the lives of others after he was involved in a five-car pileup in his new $150,000 Ferrari.
Mazzi Dumato (38), from Dasmascus, Syria but grew up in Brazil and Dubai, earned his millions through web design, marketing and real estate companies in Dubai before the car crash.
The entrepreneur spent a third of his $3million fortune on cancer treatments for his wife, Milena, before the couple embarked on numerous charitable ventures upon her recovery.
Mazzi credits his accident and meeting his wife as the turning points in his life that lead him from the playboy life to the path he is currently on.
“I bought a Ferrari and I thought I had achieved everything I wanted to achieve,” he said.
“I started partying and two weeks later I got into a car accident and I was in a five-car pileup. I fell asleep and ended up under a pickup truck.
“That morning in jail the first person I met there was someone that I knew fifteen years ago. He was the father of one of my good friends in high school. I remember I always looked up to him as he had five cars and a was a big businessman in Dubai.
“This guy arranged for me to have a mattress and a pillow and I remember I sat on that and thought this is all I have right now. Taken away this freedom and all I had was this mattress and pillow and I was just like everyone else in here.
“I wasn’t that big shot Mazzi that I thought I was the whole time. It was an incredible realisation.”
That realisation set Mazzi on his travels upon his release as he struggled to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. Those travels led him to the love of his life.
“A year after I left Dubai I was in a club in Brazil one night and overhear this woman talking about Africa,” he recalled.
“She was volunteering in the Congo shortly after she had come out of hospital for leukaemia. She decided that she was going to go and help people. She volunteered at the UN and they sent her to the Congo where she spent a year and could have relapsed at any time.
“I met this woman just after she had come back and she’s now my wife Milena who has inspired me tremendously at the time. We moved in together and we started to think what we could do.”
Mazzi and Milena donated some money to a charity in the Dominican Republic and went there to help Haitian refugees. Mazzi soon realised people needed his time and not necessarily his money.
“Just before we left that village the whole village cried for her,” he said.
“This woman really touched so many people from the youngest babies to the oldest people in the village. Everybody loved her, not because of the money she gave them but because of her time.
“This is when I realised that charity is not about money. It’s about giving your time truly in service to others. We realised that we cannot give our money to charity and we should be doing our own charity.”
In a tragic turn of events, Milena developed breast cancer and had to have a double mastectomy and bone marrow transplant. Mazzi spent around $700,000 on her treatment and was inspired to find alternative treatments.
“The doctor treating Milena was setting up a cancer prevention centre and the adjacent property was available,” he added.
“I bought the land and my deal was that 50% of the cancer prevention centre’s income would go to providing the service for free to people who couldn’t afford the treatments.
“We have about nine properties in total. They all have incredible stories. Not all are turned into centres. Our cancer prevention centre will be ready by the end of 2017.
“We have the healing centre which is already operational. We bought a house next to a leukaemia hospital in Curitiba where my wife was treated. We’ve put in 32 beds and we will provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for family members of hospital patients.
“A lot of people come from outside and have nowhere to sleep. I have a coffee farm in Panama and the rest are rental properties to generate income to go to the centres and pay for hospital bills for her brother who is sick now.”
Mazzi believes everyone should access to free healthcare and aims to help as much as he can. He has set up a company to sell unique items from around the world with the aim of generating money to fund his charitable ventures.
“I believe everyone should have free healthcare, especially when you’re paying taxes for it,” he said.
“There is free healthcare in Brazil but it’s really bad. There are videos on YouTube where people die in waiting rooms waiting to be attended to by doctors.
“Spice of My People sells high-end products such as jewellery, medicinal products, herbal mixtures and teas from different parts of the world.
“What I wanted to do with my centres was to produce these products ourselves. So now with this shop I realise there are so many medicinal herbs in this region that now we creating our own mixtures where we can eventually have the products of Spice of my People being used to treat people at our centres in Brazil and maybe even have centres here in South America that will be able to do that.”
Mazzi’s efforts to help people across South America have saw him spend his vast fortune and he now lives in either his VW adventure wagon or sleeps in his restaurant or shop.
“Basically, I gave away all my money,” he explained.
“When I left Dubai I had about $3m. I spent around $1m on property and the last $2m went on hospital bills for my wife’s cancer and car accident and for her brother’s brain tumour which he’s still in hospital for.
“With that money, we set up an intensive care unit in Florianopolis where he is going to be moved to. He is the last living member of her family so when he needed the surgery there was no doubt I would help him.”